Two Gals Make Epic 14-Miler from Sun Road to Many Glacier
First it was five, then three, then two who felt up to this big hike that goes from Siyeh Bend up and over Piegan Pass all the way down to Many Glaicer.The plan was for Katie's husband Tom and his friend Gordon to start at Many Glacier while the gals started from Siyeh and then do a key exchange wherever we crossed paths. However, with just two walking each way, and with all the grizzly activity and the bears in hyperphagia, we decided to hike all four together. Luckily, Camille's husband agreed to drop us off and drive around to Many Glacier to pick us up.
So we hit the road at 5:15 and were on trail at Siyeh Bend by 9, after stops in Conrad and St. Mary Visitor Center. The day was smoky, extremely smoky in the St. Mary valley. We worried that we had made a mistake. Katie had her N95 mask, just in case, but fortunately, it did get a bit better. Smoke became replaced by rain clouds as we descended into the Many Glacier Valley, the winds shifting from southwest to north east.
Even though we never had clear skies, we still marveled at the views. The grey actually made the fall colors pop: the reds and oranges of spiraea and huckleberries, the yellows of willow and dogbane and the still-green beargrass. Berries were abundant, so we snacked on hucks the whole way and took pictures of mountain ash and elderberries. Too, we saw lots of bear scat, most filled with berries and colored purple.
The views of Mount Gould, the Garden Walls, Piegan Glacier, glacial-till aqua lakes, and Morning Eagle Falls and Cataract Creek with aqua and maroon carved rocks filled our senses so we couldn't stop taking pictures! We saw goats and took the side trips to Grinnell Lake and Hidden Falls and walked the far side of Josephine Lake to make it a full 14-mile day.
From Piegan Pass to Morning Eagle Falls we didn't see anyone else on the trail. Then just one until we hit Grinnell Lake. Then a boatful of people came up the trail. Then on the far side of Josephine, we hit the crowds returning from Grinnell Glacier. We thought we should have stayed on the hotel side of the lake to avoid crowds, even if it isn't as pretty.
We arrived at 4:15 at the picnic area to find Camille's husband Mike in the front and center parking spot. He told us how long it took to drive in, a couple hours, due to the construction, and then he couldn't find a spot fo park. He went to Swiftcurrent to start and then came back and was able to find a place. He was amazed how many were hiking back from Grinnell Glacier.
Due to construction, it took us a while to get home. We arrived at 9 p.m., after a stop for Subway sandwich in Conrad.mOur plan had been to order from Buffalo Joe's in Browning and eat dinner outside there. However, when we arrived, our orfer hadn't even been started. The restaurant was packed; the wait staff estimated another hour wait, so we cancelled our order.
We all agreed, this is one of the best hikes in the park.